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General Sessions

Jennifer Owen-White
Refuge Manager, Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge

Wednesday, March 29, 8:00 am - 9:30 am

Jennifer Owen-White is the first refuge manager of the new Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge in Albuquerque. Valle de Oro is the first urban refuge in the Southwest and part of a larger push by U.S. Fish and Wildlife to reach urban audiences and connect them to the important habitats and wildlife that the Service protects. Before taking the position at Valle de Oro, Jennifer was the Refuge Manager at the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge and also served as the Visitor Service manager for the South Texas Refuge Complex. Jennifer is proud to be both a biologist and visitor services specialist. She was born in Chicago, grew up in Houston, and has a B.S. in Biology as well as an M.S. in Wildlife Science from Texas Tech University. Jennifer is completing her PhD in Forestry and Natural Resource Interpretation from Stephen F. Austin State University where she has focused on connecting urban communities to conservation and the outdoors.

Sarah M. Bexell, PhD
Research Associate Professor, Institute for Human-Animal Connection
Graduate School of Social Work, Adjunct, University of Denver

Thursday, March 30, 8:00 am - 9:00 am

Integrating the Social Sciences to Influence Human Population and Behavior Patterns for Feasible Species Conservation: It Starts With Us

As we live now within the sixth mass extinction (Ceballos et al, 2015), have chosen a career dedicated to conserving biodiversity with little to no success, and work long and stressful hours for little pay, why is it that we find it difficult, if not painful, to talk about the two main drivers of species loss, the size of our own species' population, and our consumptive and mobile behaviors?  This is not a traditional conservation biology question, these issues are often perceived as questions best answered by psychologists, sociologists, economists, political scientists and social workers. However, our participation in the answers to these questions are paramount in our commitments to species preservation.  How do we integrate the expertise of conservation planning and the social sciences to achieve biodiversity preservation, as well as the preservation of human health and well-being?

Sarah Bexell has been engaged in wildlife conservation, conservation education and humane education for over 20 years. Currently, she is Associate Research Professor with the Institute for Human-Animal Connection at the University of Denver, USA and Director of Conservation Education at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, China. Her work focuses on developing and evaluating education programs to facilitate the human-animal bond to promote animal welfare and rights, healthy child and human development, and biodiversity and nature preservation. At the University of Denver she teaches courses in sustainability and animal studies. She has worked in China for nearly two decades to build capacity of conservation education professionals working for zoological institutions, nature reserves and NGOs. She lives and works part of each year in Colorado, USA and in Sichuan Province, China.



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